Science

Is Science Declining? The Public and Scientists both say Yes.

Scientists and the Public both Agree that U.S. Scientific Community is Declining. A study released yesterday says American scientists and U.S. citizens have differences in opinions, but both can agree upon the decline of the scientific community throughout America in the past five years.

Scientists and the Public both Agree that U.S. Scientific Community is Declining

A study released yesterday says American scientists and U.S. citizens have differences in opinions, but both can agree upon the decline of the scientific community throughout America in the past five years.

The scientists who were interviewed are part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in which 82% have at least one doctorate degree. A random sample of U.S. adults represented the public. The study was conducted by Pew Research Center and was released yesterday.

Each group had positive broad views on U.S. scientific advancements when compared to the other countries. Both majorities ranked American scientific achievement above average and K-12 education below average.

Both groups’ overall views on scientific advancement expressed positive outlooks. Yet, the public’s idea that America has a high place in the global scientific community has declined from 65% to 54% since 2009. That’s a 9% decrease in five years.

Scientists' responses also agreed with this trend but at a slightly higher rate. (Right)

Many (84%) AAAS scientists cite the public’s lack of scientific knowledge as a major problem for science in general.

Seventy-five percent of scientists go on to say this lack of knowledge stems from the faults in U.S. K-12 education.

Specifically, the U.S. science, math, and engineering (STEM) education was criticized by both groups. Only 16% of AAAS scientists and 29% of the general public rank U.S. STEM education for grades K-12 as either above average or the best in the world.

The co-author of the study, Lee Rainie, noted that both groups rarely have the same voice on issues and these agreements are worth paying attention to.

A lack of funding for scientific research was the only other issue that was reported at a higher rate by scientists. Eighty-eight percent of these scientists agree that lack of funding is a major problem. This is 4% more than those who say a lack of knowledge is also a major issue.

Similarly, 83% of AAAS scientists report that obtaining federal research funding is harder today than it was five years ago.

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